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France Introduces Special Subsidy for Films With Women in Charge

Europe’s biggest film industry, France is introducing a new subsidy bonus for movies with women as directors and in other key roles – one of a series of initiatives unveiled Thursday to promote gender equality.

Starting next year, movies with enough women in positions such as director, cinematographer and head of production will be eligible for a 15% bonus on top of the subsidy they receive from France’s National Film Board (CNC). The measure was announced by French culture minister Francoise Nyssen and CNC president Frédérique Bredin during a three-day conference co-hosted by the feminist organization 50/50 Pour 2020, a driving force behind the gender-parity pledges signed at festivals such as Cannes and Venice.

“Film mirrors society and is a vehicle to change it,” Bredin said. “It must be a pioneer [to promote] these issues of equality and diversity. It’s the role of cinema to spark an awareness and make mentalities evolve.”

She added: “We must launch a trend. This bonus has to be a platform to fast-track change and reach gender parity within the film industry.”

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Other initiatives unveiled during the conference include mandatory reporting of the gender makeup of crews and employees working on films in the applications submitted to the CNC; ensuring the parity of presidents and members of commissions, festival juries and schools backed by the CNC; and the digitization and restoration of films directed by women.

An observatory for gender equality in film and TV will also be created to produce statistics about employment, wages and subsidies given to women, along with a study aimed at exploring the reasons why so many women who graduate from film school don’t go on to make films.

“We must break the ceiling glass and give young people even more examples of successful women. It’s the essence of the work we have been doing with 50/50 Pour 2020,” said Bredin.

Women filmmakers in France are earning on average 42% less than their male counterparts, according to a study released by the CNC in February 2017.

The conference was attended by many prominent figures of the French industry, notably the filmmakers Jacques Audiard (“The Sisters’ Brothers”), Celine Sciamma (“Girlhood”) and Rebecca Zlotowski (“Planetarium”).

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